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How to Find the Best Plumber Tech School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa Alabama plumber installing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of points to examine. For instance, many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located several that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are important, they are not the only things that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

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Almost everyone at one time or another has needed the services of a professional plumber.  It may have been due to a leaky faucet or perhaps a hot water heater needed to be replaced.  Plumbers provide a valuable service for the maintenance of both commercial and residential buildings.  They are skilled tradesmen who are trained in the installation, repair and replacement of plumbing systems.  These systems include pipes, plumbing fixtures, water based heating and cooling, sewage removal and sprinklers.  A local Tuscaloosa AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Tuscaloosa AL plumbers begin their careers as an Apprentice.  Apprenticeships are often completed in tandem with a formalized plumbing training program.  Apprentices are typically paid but unlicensed and work under the guidance of a licensed plumber during working hours and attend plumber training classes at night.  The second phase of their career begins once the apprenticeship and the training program have been completed.
  • Journeyman Plumber. Once the apprenticeship has been completed as well as any required training program, application for Journeyman Plumber licensing can be made.  Most often licensing is controlled by the state but can be managed more locally at the county or city level.  A Journeyman license will only be issued after all requirements have been met, including a passing score on the licensing exam. Even though a Journeyman is more knowledgeable and experienced than an Apprentice, they generally must continue to be supervised, in this case by a Master Plumber.
  • Master Plumber. After attaining the necessary work experience and completing any additional educational requirements, the Journeyman can apply to become a Master Plumber.  Once again a passing score must be achieved on the licensing exam before a license will be issued.  There are several benefits to advancing to the Master Plumber level, including earnings at the highest pay level, unsupervised working conditions, and the ability to start and own a business.  Master Plumbers may also hire and supervise both Journeymen and Apprentices.

As a technical field requiring a high level of skill and competence, plumbing can take years of both training and experience to master.  As a consequence, the best opportunity for success for a new Apprentice in Tuscaloosa AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

There are several educational options available near Tuscaloosa AL to receive the necessary training to begin your career as a plumber.  As far as the schools offering programs, you can enroll in a trade, technical or vocational school as well as a local community college.  The programs offered will vary, but in general the shortest is the certificate program which will focus on the fundamentals and generally take about a year to complete.  An Associate Degree will take 2 years to complete and will provide a more comprehensive education.  There are some colleges that do offer a Bachelor Degree in plumbing technology, which are 4 year programs and much broader in nature.  When choosing a school and program, naturally the completion time and the cost will be important factors.  Tuition can vary significantly among the various schools and colleges and for some private schools can be quite expensive.  State schools and community colleges typically offer their programs at the lower end of the tuition scale.  However, when making your comparisons, keep in mind that many schools offer financial aid and even scholarships to help offset some of the financial burden.  So be sure to find out what is available for each school and program before making your final decision.

Things to Ask Plumbing Training Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Tuscaloosa AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates its licensing and then verify that it’s up to date.

How Long has the School been in Business?  Another means of determining the quality of a technical school is to find out how long it’s been in business.  The longer a school has been in operation, the more likely that its programs are highly rated and regarded. Conversely, schools that are not well regarded or that provide low quality training generally don’t stand the test of time.  However, keep in mind that even the best of Tuscaloosa AL schools had to start from their first day of operation, so only use it as one of several qualifications for each school you are considering.

What are the School’s Completion and Placement Rates?  Ask the plumbing schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Tuscaloosa Plumbing Vocational Schools

Pick the Best Tuscaloosa Plumbing Vocational School

Picking the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.